I have to say, food-wise this was probably my most successful Thanksgiving meal to date. I know, that sounds like bragging, but I’m really not. I’m kind of delighted and amazed.
Above – our appetizers. Way in the back, in the crystal dish, we’ve got Ants On a Log. Alex spread the peanut butter and Joe’s fiancé, Sage, added the raisins. Then, on the little green plate, kind of blurred, are the sausages and mustard. More on them in a bit. Then we’ve got little squares of a version of kale pie that were – I’m bragging now – fabulous. And then there’s some cream cheese with hot pepper jelly on top…crackers, and mixed dry-roasted nuts.
These are some of the sausages that Bill and John made several weeks ago. These are flavored with garlic and red wine, and Bill saved this last bunch for Thanksgiving.
He decided to cook them over the fire, since we’re all about cooking in the fireplace right now, that wasn’t surprising.
He planned to hang them over this bar that would control the opening and closing of the flu if we had a thing in there to close. We don’t. We just have the bar thing that goes across.
It’s tricky, though, because there’s a hot fire underneath, and you can’t see what you’re doing, and you have to do it quickly.
There they are. A bit sooty, some of them. And you can only see the two at the bottom, out of the six we had.
Only problem was, it really wasn’t THAT hot up there. So Bill eventually took them down and finished them in a cast iron pan in the fireplace. I think if we were interested in slow-cooking something above the fire, it would have worked, especially if we hung the meat a bit lower. But this wasn’t going to produce anything in time for pre-meal snacking.
The sausages – fully cooked and cut on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces – were a HUGE hit. I rationed them out so that there were always nice, warm sausages as different parts of the family arrived.
We have none left.
Most of the kale pie squares disappeared, too. I just have a few bits of trimmings left.
Oh, and the hot pepper jelly over cream cheese? That was popular as well. My father – who is not a huge fan of spicy heat – actually liked it and went back for more. I think it’s the balance of sweet + heat that makes it pleasant, and then that combined with the cream cheese and a cracker…mmm, a perfect blend of flavors and textures.
Natalie loved it, too.
And then there’s the turkey.
This year was our first year brining a turkey, and we are VERY happy with the result. Moist and flavorful and falling-off-the-bone…glad it’s a really big bird so there are still plenty of leftovers even after we sent some home with family.
My blanket stitches held! I was rather pleased with that.
The one thing that threw me was how quickly this turkey cooked. I expected the skin to brown more quickly than usual, and was all prepared with foil tents to keep it from burning. But the meat was cooked well before I thought it would be, and even the stuffing was cooked all the way through relatively quickly. Not a big deal, though, we just kept it tented until dinner time.
My sister was laughing at me as I carved off the legs and wings and removed the stuffing. I kept grabbing the camera.
But doesn’t that look fabulous?? Just falling off the bone.
Even the breast meat!
Our next plan (we have so many food plans right now, we should devote a notebook to them all) is to experiment on brining chickens with different aromatics included in the brine…fresh herbs…onions and garlic…lemon slices, so that next Thanksgiving when we brine, we’ll have our own “signature” flavor profile.
Some days I just love the fun of playing with recipes.
And, the final picture….this is the pumpkin pie I made, and I’d baked little pastry leaves to decorate the edges.
Here’s how it looked before we even sat down to dinner:
See the little ditches in the filling? Yeah.
I wonder who that was.
She denied it all of last night, but finally confessed this morning:
“I thought it was some kind of dip!”
Fair enough. I’d put it near all the other appetizers.
That’s mostly all gone now, and may I tell you my dainty petite daughter ate one piece of pumpkin pie and THREE pieces of pumpkin (thanks Natalie!) apple pie. And was still hungry. And yes, she ate appetizers and dinner, too. I figure it’s a growth spurt, and soon she’ll be taller than Alex.
As for today, I’m not going anywhere near the stores. Black Friday holds no appeal for me, perhaps because I used to work in retail and had my fair share of having to work weird hours so people could shop at strange times.
Or perhaps because I can’t stand the whole “Buy, Buy, Buy!” mentality at this time of year. Yeah, it’s good to get a good deal on things, but all the commercials insisting that I need to get my kids this or that so their holiday will be The Best Christmas Ever!!!!!!!!! – sorry, that sort of marketing doesn’t work on me.
So I’ll stay home and do some fun stuff like sewing little projects and drinking a mix of coffee and hot cocoa and eating leftovers. In my pajamas.
THAT is how the day after Thanksgiving should be spent, in my humble opinion. That that’s just me.